When I inquired about Ben Carson’s speeches and appearances for Mannatech late last year, I was told I would not be speaking to Dr. Carson; I was only permitted to speak to his business manager, Armstrong Williams.
From our conversation, it was clear Williams had no idea about any of Mannatech’s controversies, or then-Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott suing the company for what the state called “a particularly egregious case of false advertising.” (The company settled with the state out of court, agreeing to pay $4 million in restitution.)
Both Williams and Carson insist there was “no compensated relationship” because the money for Carson’s speeches and appearances went through a Speaker’s Bureau. This is sophistry. The Speaker’s Bureau just transfers the money from the group to the speaker; Carson spoke to the group four times and talked about the company’s “glyconutrient” products in a PBS special as recently as last year. The company stated, “a group of Mannatech independent distributors, not Mannatech Incorporated, sponsored Dr. Carson to be the sole speaker on a PBS special.”
Williams (and presumably Carson) contend that Carson never endorsed Mannatech’s products, even though he appeared in company videos saying things like, “The wonderful thing about a company like Mannatech is that they recognize that when God made us, He gave us the right fuel.” That’s a semantic argument about what constitutes an endorsement.
Carson wouldn’t answer my questions, but he did answer a question from NewsMax.
Last night, when asked about Mannatech, Ben Carson responded:
Well, that’s easy to answer. I didn’t have an involvement with them. That is total propaganda, and this is what happens in our society. Total propaganda. I did a couple of speeches for them, I do speeches for other people. They were paid speeches. It is absolutely absurd to say that I had any kind of a relationship with them. Do I take the product? Yes. I think it’s a good product.
His declarations that “I didn’t have an involvement with them” and “absurd to say that I had any kind of relationship with them” are just bald-faced lies.
Mannatech wanted to improve its image and happily paid Carson, one of the country’s greatest neurosurgeons, the man Cuba Gooding Jr. played in the HBO movie – to appear at their events and to appear in the company videos. They put his face all over their web site (sometime between my story and now, those images were taken down). Carson’s lack of due diligence before working with the company is forgivable. His blatant lying about it now is much harder to forgive.